Babar Azam will be available for all 14 group matches and the quarter final Getty

Somerset have snapped up the No.1 ranked T20I batsman in the world - Babar Azam - for the upcoming T20 Blast season, starting from July 18. Azam's England stay will extend beyond the World Cup as he is said to be available for 14 group stage games and the quarter final - which go on till September 7. His availability for the finals day - to be played on September 21 - depends on his international commitments.

Azam becomes the second Pakistan player after Azhar Ali among the current batch to turn out for Somerset. Azhar impressed with his performance in the County championship and the One-Day cup last year, and has been brought back for this year's competitions too.

"I am looking forward to the new challenge that playing T20 cricket in England will bring. I have heard good things about Somerset from Azhar Ali and I want to play a part in the Club winning matches. I know that Somerset get good support and I hope that I can give them something to cheer about this year," Azam said.

Azam comes armed with decent T20 numbers - 3430 runs in 106 T20s at a strike rate of 120.26. In 29 games for Pakistan, Azam has 1182 at a strike rate of 127.78 and an average of 53.72.

"To be able to sign a player of the calibre of Babar Azam is tremendously exciting. He is a proven performer at the very highest level and that is highlighted by the fact that he is the top-rated international T20 batsman in the world. "Obviously, everyone wants to sign a world class performer, but we feel that continuity of selection is equally important. For us it is about securing the services of someone as talented as Babar Azam for more than just a handful of fixtures," Somerset CCC Director of Cricket Andy Hurry said.